Skip to main content

Full text of "An Epistle of the First Presidency"

See other formats



University of California • Berkeley 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2007 with funding from 

Microsoft Corporation 



http://www.archive.org/details/epistleoffirstprOOchurrich 



LnnivirurijuinjTjxruirinii^^ ruTJxruxru-LnLnju , 



qtutj 

AN 



v 



EPISTLE 



OF THE 



F*IF($f PF(Ey0IDE}NGY 



TO THE 



Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 
in General Conference Assembled. 



READ APRIL 8th, 1887, 

AT THE 5 

FIFTY-SEVENTH GENERAL ANNUAL CONFERENCE, f 
held at provo, utah. 5 

i 

*-» 

n; 

c. 

c 

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH, c 

THE DESERET NEWS COMPANY, PRINTERS. 

1887. § 

^^ut^J^J^^J^^lrlJ^^l^J^J^^lnJxru^^^ 



Till UA'NOfiOl Vi I Is ft A RY 






AN EPISTLE Of THE FIRST PRESIDENCY 



To the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 
General Conference assembled. 



INTRODUCTORY. 

Dear Brethren and Sisters : 

Once more, in the providence of the 
Almighty, we are permitted to address 
yon in an Epistle. It would give us very 
great pleasure to be able to communi- 
cate to you our views orally ; but 
through circumstances with which you 
are all familiar this gratification is de-, 
nied us. We rejoice, however, that the 
privilege of communicating a few 
of our thoughts in writing is still at 
our disposal. We have profound feel- 
ings of thanksgiving to our God for 
His goodness and mercy unto His peo- 
ple. Personally we have reason to be 
very grateful to Him for His preserv- 
ing care in our behalf. 

Zion has been passing through a 
series of trials which God will un- 
doubtedly overrule for our good. The 
experience of the past two years and 
a half has convinced us that there has 
been a divine providence in all that has 
taken place, and in the shaping of 
ordeals to which the Saints have been 
subjected. Painful as they have been 
to very many, the day will come when 
they will be acknowledged as having 
been the means of- bringing, great bene- 
fits to Zion. 

The Twelve Apostles and their 
Counselors have labored with great 
efficiency, as far as they have, had op- 
portunity, among the people, and have 
been active in attending to the duties 
devolving upon them. The health of 
all has been good. Recent letters from 



those outside the Territory convey the 
intelligence that they are enjoying 
their labors and are successful in the 
performance thereof. The latest ad- 
vices from President Woodruff assure 
us of his good health. Though he is 
now past 80 years of age, bis bodily and 
mentalvigor appear unimpaired. 

We ourselves are in the enjoyment 
of good health, and able to perform 
our duties with satisfaction to our- 
selves and pleasure in the liberty that 
we enjoy. President Joseph E.Smith's 
health has been somewhat impaired, 
but he is now fully restored. 

ZEAL AND DILIGENCE OF THE PEOPLE . 

The most gladdening news we can 
communicate to the Conference of the 
Church in our Epistle is that from 
every part of the Jan,d which we in- 
habit, gratifying reports have been 
received of the zeal and diligence of 
the people in attending to the duties of 
tbeir religion. Probably at no time in 
our history has there been a better dis- 
position manifested by the people to 
attend their meetings on the Sabbath 
day, and on fast days, and the prayer 
meetings which have been held during 
week day evenings. Meetings have 
been held at suitable private residences 
on many of the blocks in the city and 
country wards throughout these 
mountains. These have gener- 
ally been crowded, and have been 
occupied by the Elders in giving in- 
struction, and by the Saints in bearing 



y k i\ n u \ 



testimony and in prayer. All the 
Elders who have been free to travel 
who have reported the results of 
their labors to us, agree in say- 
ing that at no time in their 
experience have the meetings which 
they have held been so crowded as 
during the past winter. These evi- 
dences of the faith and diligence of 
the people are exceedingly gratifying 
to us. We have been cheered in listen- 
ing to them; for we know that when 
the Latter-day Saints repent of their 
sins and devote themselves assiduous- 
ly to keeping the commandments of 
Go'l, their enemies cannot have much 
power over them! 

As a people, in times past we have 
been careless and indifferent in many 
directions. Neglect of duties has been 
too common everywhere. Hypocrisy 
has been indulged in to some extent, 
and a laxity has prevailed in many 
quarters concerning the keeping of the 
laws of God which is not in accord 
with the spirit of the Gospel. Under 
these circumstances the Lord has 
permitted persecutions and trials 
to come upon His people that have had 
the effect of stirring them up to greater 
diligence. When the Lord, for any 
reason, turns His face away from His 
people, and is slow to hear their cries, 
thorough repentance on their part and a 
complete abandonment of their evil 
ways are sure to bring back His favor, 
and to cause His countenance to shine 
upon them. This has been the case in 
every age when God has had a people 
upor the earth. In our own day we 
have seen frequent illustrations of this. 
We have never feared for the people, 
nor for the prosperity of the work, 
when the Latter-day Saints have been 
fully alive to the duties and require- 
ments of their religion. But when 
they have been careless and neglectful, 
or disobedient and hard in their hearts, 
then we have trembled; for when the 
Saints are in such a condition 
the displeasure of the Lord is 
sure to be awakened against them, and 
His scourges are likely to fall upon 



them. The Lord does not permit His 
enemies, nor the enemies of His peo- 
ple, to prevail over them for any 
length of time when they are living 
Dear unto Him and complying strictly 
with His will. All His promises, of the 
brightest and most glorious character, 
encouraging and hopeful, are given to 
those who keep His commandments 
and who seek earnestly to carry* out in 
their lives the principles of salvation 
which He has revealed. When a peo- 
ple are in this condition their enemies 
cannot have much power over them. 

WHY OUR ENEMIES HAVE FAILED. 

We attribute the failure on the part 
of our enemies to accomplish their 
wicked purposes during the last session 
of Congress to the fact that the Saints 
were more true to their professions, 
and were offering up, in sincere hu- 
mility and faith, their petitions to the 
God of heaven for His interposition 
in their behalf. When we consider the 
character of the measures which were 
framed in the first place, and which it 
was the evident purpose of our ene- 
mies to force through and make law, 
it is clearly to be seen that our 
Father in heaven has restrained the ef- 
forts of the wicked and defeated them 
in their iniquitous designs. For a 
while it seemed inevitable that every 
liberty would.be wrested from us, and 
that we should be brought into sub- 
jection to a most odious tyranny and 
be stripped of every right which be • 
longs to free men. And though the 
measures which have been enacted are 
odious to the principles of true repub- 
licanism, still our enemies are dis- 
appointed in their schemes and 
feel that they have been 
defeated; while the Saints rejoice in 
the goodness of God, and feel assured 
that by His help and their continued 
faithfulness in keeping His command- 
ments and relying upon Him, they wi 11 
be able to endure, with patience and 
without grievous loss, all that the ene- 
mies of His Kingdom shall have 
power to bring upon them. 



■* 



DUTIES OF THE PRIESTHOOD. 

It is of the utmost importance that 
the teachings which have heretofore 
been given to the officers of the 
Church, and which it is not necessary 
to repeat at length here, should be kept 
in mind and carried out in the spirit in 
which they were given. Great respon- 
sibility rests at the present time upon 
those Elders who have liberty of ac- 
tion, and they should be untiring in 
their efforts to magnify their Priest-, 
hood and to do everythiug possible to- 
wards building up and strengthen- 
ing the Saints in the practice 
of those holy principles which God has 
revealed. Much depends in these days 
of trial upon those who bear the Lesser 
Priesthood. They have opportunities 
which are of unequalled advantage. 
They visit, or should visit, the people 
at their homes.' They talk to them by 
their firesides. They can see their in- 
ner lives, and learn wherein they need 
strengthening and guiding, in order to 
be more efficient Latter-day Saints. 
When Priests and Teachers understand 
their duties and seek to enjoy the spirit 
of their offices, they can do an im- 
mense amount of good; for they are 
brought directly in contact with the 
people; they learn their wants, are 
made familiar with tneir weaknesses, 
and are in a position to check 
the growth of evil tendencies in 
parents and in children. There 
is, in many instances, doubtless, too 
much formality in the character 
of these visits— a disposition to drop 
into routine and to ask stereotyped 
questions, without conversing in a way 
to bring out the real feelings and spirit 
of the households which they visit. 
Visits of this character are compara- 
tively barren of results. To make 
them as productive of good as they 
should be, live, active men should be 
used as Priests and Teachers. The 
best ability in the various wards 
can find ample field for usefulness in 
performing these duties. Young men 
who have not had experience should 
be associated with those who have had 



experience, and they should be im- 
pressed with the importance of seek- 
ing for the Spirit of God to rest upon 
them in power, to dictate to them the 
very things that should be said to the 
family which they visit. The 
teachings which might be appro- 
priate to one family, and be 
the very instruction which they 
might need, would not perhaps be so 
suitable for another family. There-, 
fore, the necessity of having the guid- 
ance of the Spirit of God is appar- 
ent. 

THE WELFARE OF THE YOUNG. 

There is a tendency, almost amount- 
ing to an epidemic in some places, 
among the young people to indulge in 
cigarette smoking. The habit is filthy, 
unhealthy, and pernicious geuerally. 
God has spoken so plainly on this sub- 
ject that there is no room to question 
the impropriety of this practice. The 
Teachers should make it their especial 
business, in all kindness and in a mild, 
instructive spirit, to reason and re- 
monstrate with young people upon 
this habit. Every effort should be 
made to check its growth amongst us. 
The habit also, which some young peo- 
ple fall into, of using vulgarity and 
profanity, is one which should receive 
the attention of Teachers. This 
practice is not only offensive to all 
well-bred persons, but it is a gross sin 
in the sight of God, and should not ex- 
ist among the children of the Latter- 
day Saints. 

At the Priesthood meetings of Wards, 
Bishops and Counselors and other ex- 
perienced Elders can do great good to 
the young men by imparting to them 
instruction upon these points and giv- 
ing them explanations concerning 
questions which they may be asked 
upon the live issues and topics of the 
hour. There is a body of young men 
growing up in Zion, who, if taught as 
they should be, can be made most 
efficient in building up the Church and 
in strengthening its members against 
the various temptations to do wrong 



to which they are exposed. These 
yoAgmenare generally full of zeal 
and energy and good desires, and only 
need to be directed aright to 
accomplish immense results. 

PROVIDING EMPLOYMENT. 

Connected with our temporal labors 
there is probably no point of more 
importance than the providing of em- 
ployment for our people. The spirit 
of the Gospel of the Lord Jesu3 Christ- 
is opposed to idleness. We do not be- 
lieve that a man wh® has that spirit 
can rest content if he is not busily em 
ployed. There are many who come 
from other parts who have been ac- 
customed to following branches of 
trade at which they cannot find em- 
ployment here. There are a great 
many young men and young women 
growing up also, who do not have the 
necessary experience or knowledge to 
employ themselves. These cases 
should receive the attention and con- 
sideration of the Bishops and Presi- 
dents and other officers of the Church.- 
We should aim to create industries at 
which the people can find em- 
ployment. If all who have the 
influence of position, or the power 
that the control of means gives, would 
keep this subject constantly before 
them and work unitedly in the proper 
direction, a great many industries 
might be started in this Territory that 
would result in profit to their founders 
and give fixed employment to many 
who are now in want of it. In every 
Ward or Stake where there are oppor- 
tunities of this character, judicious 
men should be selected to take the 
.direction of such affairs and to make 
wise investments, so that discourage- 
ment will not follow through the loss 
of means or the unskilful handling of 
the business. 

LEGISLATIVE AND JUDICIAL TYRANNY. 

From the day of the organization of 
the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- 
day Saints, the adversary of souls has 
stirred up the wicked to accomplish its 
destruction. Various agencies have 
been employed to effect this purpose. 



Falsehood, tradition, deep - rooted 
piejudice, the learning, wealth and 
power of Christendom, mob violence, 
fire, fetters, the rifle and the sword, 
wholesale expulsion and military force 
having been tried in vain, a new cru- 
sade has been inaugurated in the form 
of legislative and judicial tyranny, 
prompted by Satan and carried on by 
cunning adventurers and reckless fa- 
natics. Perhaps the most shameful 
and unrepublican attempt of this char- 
acter was the latest scheme devised 
by the local conspirators. What is 
known as the Edmunds law — the act 
of March 22nd, 1882— was hoped to be 
broad enough in its intended scope tQ 
secure the political control of the Ter- 
ritory to the anti- "Mormon" voters. 
Alarsre number of both sexes were by 
that ace deprived of the franchise. 
That it did not wrench the control 
of the Territory out of the hands of 
the majority of its' residents, is not 
to be credited to the absence of such a 
wish and design on the part of its au- 
thors and promoters, but to the over- 
ruling providence of the Almighty. 
The ground which those who favored 
this measure seemed to take was, that 
it was both praiseworthy and justifia- 
ble to violate the soundest political 
principles, and even the Constitution 
itself, to take the political control of 
the Territory of Utah from the "Mor- 
mon" majority and concentrate it in 
the hands of the anti -"Mormon" mi- 
nority. Having gone thus far to ac- 
complish this end, it was scarcely to 
be expected they would hesitate to 
make other and more outrageous at- 
tempts, when they found that the Ed- 
munds law had not answered the full 
purpose for which it was intended. It 
appears to be one of the effects which 
follow a departure from sound repub- 
lican and constitutional principles like 
the enactment of such a strange piece 
of legislation as the Edmunds 
law, that x every future attempt 
in the same direction will be more re- 
gardless of the settled principles of 
political liberty than its predecessor. 



The Edmunds law, instead of appeas- 
ing the anti-*' Mormon" appetite tor 
power, only whetted it. The success 
of its promoters in securing its pas- 
sage, and the results which have fol- 
lowed, emboldened them to make the 
most extraordinary demands upon 
Congress for further legislation. Em- 
issaries from Salt Lake City were em- 
plos ed and sent to Washington, sus- 
tained by funds levied upon and col- 
lected from the non "Mormon" popu- 
lation of the Territory, to secure the 
passage of a law which would bind the 
"Mormon" people nand and foot, and 
leavf; them, their liberties,their proper- 
ty and all that makes life valuable and 
desirable, at the feet of their deadly 
enemies. They did not appear to doubt 
that their demands for legislation of 
this character against us would meet 
with ready acceptance on the part of 
the National Legislature and the pub- 
lic generally. 

On the first day of the first session 
of the Forty-ninth Congress, Senator 
Edmunds introduced a bill (numbered 
10 on the Senate calendar) which con- 
tained shameful unrepublican features, 
the evident purpose of which was to 
entirely destroy all the liberties of the 
majority of the people of Utah. There 
were a few Senators who stood up 
manfully and resisted the passage of 
this measure as an attack upon re- 
ligious, liberty; but their protests and 
arguments were in vain. The bill 
passed the Senate and was sent to the 
House. It was ably discussed before 
the Judiciary Committee of the House 
by our friends, and everything was 
done that was possible to enlighten 
that committee concerning the affairs 
of Utah and the conspiracy which ex- 
isted here to obtain the political con- 
trol of the Territory.. A new bill was 
reported by the chairman of that com- 
mittee, as a substitute for the Senate 
bill, and the provisions of the new bill 
were found to be equally objectionable 
with the bill for which it was a substi- 
tute. The measure was modified and 
changed by wiser and more conservative 



legislators, in spite of the efforts of 
those who inspired it—a result which 
we view as due to the ove -ruling povv 
er of Providence and the reluctance of 
some reasonable public men to sanc- 
tion a measure so utterly subversive 
as this was of the rights of citizens. 
An agreement was reached by the Con- 
ference Committee, composed of mem- 
bers of the Senate and of the House, 
and in its amended form the bill was 
reported to both houses, and passed 
without alteration. It finally became 
law, without thelsignature of the Presi- 
dent. In its original form the palpa- 
ble intention was to destroy the 
Church. 

It is generally admitted that no such 
law was ever enacted in this country 
before; and to find its parallel 
one must search the records of 
mediaeval times, when men's ideas 
of liberty were confined to such grants 
as despotic governments and rulers re- 
luctantly chose to give them. The provi- 
sions interfering with the property of 
the Church, and looking to the es- 
cheating or other disposition of its 
funds in a manner contrary to the in- 
tention of the donors, are in violation 
of ecclesiastical rights and in the 
nature of confiscation and spoliation. 

The disfranchisement of all the 
women voters, without cau->e and 
without even the allegation of crime 
against them, is an arbitrary exercise 
of despotic power without parallel in 
republican history. No reasonable ex- 
cuse can be offered for such an inva- 
sion of political rights exercised 
without hindrance for seventeen years ; 
and the win pretence of the enemies of 
the Latter-day Saints that they wish 
to rescue the woman of Utah from 
bondage has, by this outrage upon 
freedom, been effectually silenced for- 
ever. Taken with other portions of the 
law it betrays an attempt to pave the 
way for the domination of the major- 
ity by the minority, because the 
former is composed of members of 
an unpopular Church. It should be 
the purpose of good citizens and 



6 



faithful Latter-day Saints to maintain 
the liberties which are dear to every 
citizen, by all legal and consistent 
means within their power. And while 
many of the men and women who, with 
divine assistance, opened this region 
to human occupation and fitted it for 
civilized existence, are arbitrarily de- 
prived of any personal participation in 
its government, it becomes the duty as 
well as the privilege of those who can 
do so under the operation of unjustly 
discriminating laws, to stand up man- 
fully and use all diligence and vigi- 
lance in the retention aud prevalence 
of the local rule of the local majority. 
In thus sustaining the right and assist- 
ing in the prevention of wrong, they 
will hare the blessings of a just God 
and the approval of. an enlightened 
conscience. 

A redeeming feature of the new law 
is the exemption of wives who are 
viewed as legal from testifying against 
their husbands in cases arising under 
the Edmunds act. This and the de- 
cision of the Supreme Court of the 
United States condemning the segre- 
gation system, by which the extreme 
penalties imposed by law were un- 
lawfully multiplied upon "Mormon" 
defendants, are cutting rebukes to the 
Utah Courts and District Attorney, for 
their excesses and malice in pursuing 
persons acting under the strongest re- 
ligious convictions. The relief thus 
afforded to many subjects of judicial 
persecution would doubtless be con- 
siderably extended, if other extreme 
rulings of the Utah Courts were re- 
viewed by the highest tribunal of the 
land. 

As to wnether the Church is a 
corporation, grave doubts are enter- 
tained. This is a question yet to be 
determined. But if it should be decid- 
ed that it is a corporation, is it pos>i 
ble that after a Territory has granted 
a charter of incorporation, and Con- 
gress has for long years permitted 
the Territorial act to stand unchal 
lenged and unquestioned, the latter 
body can now revoke the charter and 



appropriate the proceeds of the prop- 
erty to such uses as the majority of 
Congress may designate? If this be 
possible, well may we, with all the 
people of the Territories, ask : Are we 
| living under a government of law, or 
are we and all our rights as freemen 
subject only to the whim and caprice 
of Congress? 

The Supreme Court of the United 
States, in 19 Howard, page 499, said : 
"The power of Congress over the per- 
son and property of a citizen can never 
be a mere discretionary power under 
our Constitution and form of govern- 
ment. The powers of the government 
and the rights and privileges of the 
citizen are regulated and plainly de- 
fined by the Constitution itself, and 
when a Territory becomes a part of 
the United States, the Federal 
Government enters Into possession 
in the character impressed upon 
it by those |who created 
It eaters upon it with its powers 
over the citizen strictly defined and 
limited by the Constitution from which 
it derives its own existence, and by 
virtue of which alone it continues to 
exist as a government and sovereignty. 
It has no power of any kiud beyond it, 
and it cannot when it enters a Terri- 
tory of the United States put off its 
character, and assume discretionary or 
despotic powers which the Constitu- 
tion has denied to it. It cannot create 
ior itself a new character separate 
from the citizens of the United States, 
and the duties it owes to them under 
the provisions of the Constitution." 

To appropriate the property of a 
private corporation by saying that 
all beyond a certain value shall 
escheat to the Government is an act 
worthy of the dark ages when the right 
of the state to such property was 
maintained by feudal theories. In 
latter days the more equitable doctrine 
prevails, even when corporations are 
dissolved for violation of law, that the 
property of the defunct corporation 
goes to the corporators. 
As has been well said by the court in 



the case of Wilkinson vs. Leland, (2 
Peters 65) in dealing with the question 
of taking the property of one and giv- 
ing it^ to another, without judicial in- 
quiry and by legislative enactment: 
"That government can scarcely be 
deemed free, where the rights ot prop- 
erty are left solely dependent upon the 
will of the legislative body, without 
any restraint. The fundamental maxim 
of all free governments seems to re- 
require that the rights of personal 
liberty and of private property should 
be held sacred. * * * 

A different doctrine is utterly incon- 
sistent with the erreat and fundamental 
principles of a republican govern- 
ment and with the right of 
the citizens to the free enjoyment 
of their property lawfully acquired." 

In a case which was appealed to the 
United States Supreme Court, (Terrett 
vs. Taylor, 9 Cranch,) which involved 
church property, that the Legislature- 
of the State of Virginia had undertak- 
en to take from the corporations hold- 
ing it*and turn over to trustees, as this 
law attempts to do, Judge Story said : 
"But the property was, in fact and in 
law, generally purchased by the par- 
ishioners or acquired by benefactions 
of private donors. The title thereto 
was indefeasibly vested in the churches, 
or rather in their legal agents. Tt was 
not in the power ot the crown to seize 
or assume it, nor of the Parliament 
itself to destroy the grants, unless by 
the exercise of a power the most arbi- 
trary, oppressive, and unjust, and en- 
dured only because it could not be re- 
sisted. It was not forfeited, for the 
churches had committed no offense. 
The dissolution of the regal govern- 
ment no more destroyed the right to 
possessor enjoy the property than it 
did the right of any other corporation 
or individual to his or its own proper- 
ty. * * * * We think our- 
selves standing upon the principles 
of natural justice, upon the fun- 
damental laws of every free gov- 
ernment, upon the spirit and letter 
of the Constitution of the United 



States, and upon the decision of the 
most respectable judicial tribunals, in 
resisting such doctrine. " 

It seems to plain men that this new 
law, in its attempt to seize and dispose 
of our property, lawfully acquired, is 
in direct conflict with the provision of 
the Constitution which declares that 
"no person shall be deprived of life, 
liberty or property without due pro- 
cess of law." A well known writer has 
said : "They have first of all to remove a 
very stubborn prejudice which has 
been confirmed by immemorial usage 
that what a person honestly acquires 
and legally possesses is his own and 
not another's." 

THE TEST OATH. 

Probably no portion of this law has 
received so much attention since its 
passage as the section containing what 
is known as the "test oath." "The 
municipal election at Brigham City, 
immediately after the bill became law, 
and the pressing necessity for a de- 
cision bn the part of those who are 
eligible to vote in order that they might 
register, forced this point in the law 
into immediate prominence Our ene- 
mies have circulated the most atro- 
cious falsehoods, accusing our people 
of resorting to perjury when by so do- 
ing they could shield themselves and 
friends from punishment; but none 
knew better than they that in making 
these charges they were uttering de- 
liberate untruths. The proof of their 
falsity has been witnessed in the Feder- 
al Courts every day during the past 
thirty months, when Latter-day Saints 
were being tried for taking care of and 
acknowledging their wives and chil- 
dren, and refused to give the promise 
which the courts endeavored to extort 
frorn them under an assurance that if 
they would only make it— which they 
were told they might easily do— they 
should be permitted to go unpunished. 

Having tender consciences upon the 
subject of saying or doing anythin 
that would have even the appearance 
of relinquishing any principle of their 



religion, oV people have carefully ex- 
amined this oath and fully weighed the 
effect the taking of it would have upon 
themselves, their children and the 
world at large. Understanding fully, 
therefore, all its consequences, they 
who can do so have generally resolved 
to take the oath. But their willingness 
to do so does not divest it of its enor- 
mity or unconstitutional character. 
The rule of law is that a man is pre- 
sumed innocent of offenses and of the 
intention to commit offenses until he 
is proven guilty. But by this law it is 
presumed that the citizens of this 
Territory are disposed to violate the 
law and they . must therefore rebut 
the presumption by taking the 
oath! If the oath was expurgatory, 
and to berequired of people who had 
been in rebellion, it might have a show 
of justification; but to require such an 
oath as this from citizens who have 
violated no law is without a parallel 
even among despotic governments. 

CONSTITUTIONAL GUARANTEES 
TRAMPLED UPON. 

It is extraordinary to what extremes 
• men will go in their eagerness to strike 
a blow at the Church" of Christ. We 
felt this when the Edmunds law of 1882 
was enacted ; but this feeling became 
one of amazement when the second 
Edmunds bill was rushed through the 
Senate at the first session of the 49th 
Congress, and afterwards, in a re- 
modeled form, through the House of 
Representatives in the second session 
of the same Congress. That a power- 
ful government like ours, representing 
a population of .fifty- five millions of 
people, should magnify the words and 
acts of a community numerically as 
weak as our Church is, and exert itself 
in so tempestuous a manner to destroy 
its influence and growth, is sufficiently 
remarkable to excite surprjse; but 
when to effect this the very principles 
upon which the whole superstructure 
of government rests are dis- 
carded, and the Constitution it- 
self and its guarantees are trampled 



upon, then the feeling becomes one of 
wonder at the madness which seems to 
take possession of men when what is 
called the "Mormon question" comes 
up for discussion and action. In the 
haste and zeal of this madness to des- 
troy our religion,' settled principles of 
jurisprudence are disregarded, evil 
precedents are established, and men 
talk and act as if it were absolutely es- 
sential to the happiness of the people 
of the republic to override every true 
principle of government to strike down 
the majority of the people of Utah. It 
is easy to predict what the result of 
this contemptuous disregard of the 
rights of citizens and the written 
pledges of the Constitution will result 
in. The precedents now being made 
will, in the not distant future, be in- 
conceivably fruitful of evil to the peo- 
ple of this republic. No people or 
government can defy the sound prin- 
ciples of law which are essential to the 
correct administration of justice and 
to the maintenance of the rights of its 
citizens, without calling into exist- 
ence forces which are calculated to lead 
to its destruction. 

UNJUSTIFIABLE CONDUCT OP OFFICIALS 

There has been no cessation in the 
annoyances, persecutions and unjusti- 
fiable conduct from which our people 
have suffered at the hands of those 
clothed with a little brief authority as 
officials in our midst. Unlawful co- 
habitation, an offense which, under 
' the law, is a misdemeanor, is magni- 
fied into a crime of great turpitude, 
and more zeal is manilested in seeking 
to ferret but and punish those who are 
accused of it than there is in dealing 
with all the other crimes on the calen- 
dar. All other offenses, however 
gross and horrid, appear to sink into 
insignificance in the eyes of our Fed- 
eral officials in comparison with the 
act of a man's caring for, furnishing, 
or even visiting his wives, taken by 
him, as he believes, in accordance 
with a command of God, and his chil- 
dren born to him in such wedlock. In 



former Epistles we have described the 
conduct of some of these officials in 
fitting language. Upon slight pretexts', 
and where presumption merely exists, 
men are still arrested and treated with 
an indefensible severity which is noth- 
ing less than persecution, and which 
lifts those who endure it on to the 
plane of martyrs. The treatment of 
the Latter-day Saints in these Terri- 
tories under the Edmunds law 
will yet be read with surprise 
and wonder, when the tacts all 
become known. That American citizens 
should receive such usage in a gov- 
ernment like ours professes to be, 
would appear incredible if it were not 
substantiated by convincing proofs. 
Aged men, whose lives have been up- 
right and honorable, and against whom 
not a word of reproach can be uttered, 
have been ruthlessly and barbarously 
consigned to prison cells because they 
were too manly to disavow their fami- 
lies and to break the solemn covenants 
which they made in the presence of 
heaven with their wives. 

But this has not been the extent of 
the inhumanity of those who have 
taken upon themselves the role of per- 
secutors. Blood has been shed, and 
that in a most dastardly and cruel 
manner. Edward M.Dalton, a respect- 
able young man, of good family and 
connections, while unsuspectingly 
riding in the streets of Parowan, was 
hailed by a deputy marshal— William 
Thompson, Jr.— concealed behind a 
fence, and simultaneously shoi in the 
back. He fell from his horse and died 
shortly after. His slayer was indicted 
for manslaughter by a grand jury 
which he himself had summoned on 
open venire, and was tried in the 
Second District Court, at Beaver, 
the prosecuting attorney mak-" 
ing what was virtually a plea 
in his behalf, and he was acquitted. 
No other result could have been ex- 
pected under the circumstances, with 
such a jury, such a court, and such a 
prosecuting officer ; for, it is only the- 
truth to say, the deed was viewed with 



satisfaction and approval by many, and 
defended as an act that was entirely 
justifiable. It might be thought that, 
after such an occurrence, such a man 
would be quietly set aside and kept 
from public notice. But, alas! for our 
country and the evil days upon which 
we have fallen, this man is now re- 
tained in the employ of the government 
and acts as a deputy marshal! 

Edward M. Dalton died, it may be 
said, a martyr to the principles of re- 
ligious freedom. His innocent blood 
was shed without provocation. His 
name will yet stand out in history as 
that of a victim to religious hate, and 
his memory will be cherished by his 
family and friends and our entire com- 
munity with loving veneration. 

Elder Lorenzo Snow, one of the 
Twelve Apostles, was sentenced by 
the First District Court to eighteen 
months' imprisonment in the peniten- 
tiary and $900 fine and the costs of his 
trial. It was felt that this was an un- 
just sentence; that the grand jury, un- 
der the direction of the District At- 
torney, violated the law in negregating 
the offense with which he was charged 
and bringing in three indictments 
against him. After some trouble an 
appeal was secured to the United 
States Supreme Court, which reversed 
the decision of the lower court and 
declared segregation to be unlawful. 
After eleven months' confinement in 
the Penitentiary, which he endured 
with great patience and equanimity, he 
was released from confinement. The 
joy felt at this action of the Supreme 
Court was universal throughout the 
Territory j not only because of its 
effects on other cases, but because 
of the deep interest which was taken 
in the case of our venerated brother. 
Though upwards of 72 years of age 
and of a delicate frame, the Lord sus- 
tained him during his imprisonment in 
*a remarkable manner, and he is now at 
large and able to travel and visit the 
Saints in their meetings and Confer- 
ences. 



10 



IN RELATION TO AMUSEMENTS. 

Respecting amusements: We have 
given the religious world a lesson upon 
this point. We have shown that social 
enjoyment and amusements are not 
incompatible with correct conduct and 
true religion. Instead of forbidding 
the theatre and placing it under ban, it 
has been the aim of the Latter-day 
Saints to control it and keep it free 
from impure influences, and to pre- 
serve it as a place where all could meet 
for the purpose of healthful enjoy- 
ment. Our leading men have, there- 
fore, gone to these places with the 
view, by their presence, of restraining 
all practices and influences that would 
be injurious to the young and rising 
generation. Too great care cannot be 
exercised that liberty shall not degen- 
erate into license, and not to convert 
that which should furnish enjoyment 
and simple pleasure into a means of 
producing unhealthfui excitement or 
corrupting morals. 

Our social parties should be con- 
ducted in a manner to give grati- 
fication to all who attend them, 
however • delicate and refined 
they may be in their feelings. 
Rude and boisterous conduct and 
everything of an "improper character 
should be forbidden at such assem- 
blages. It is not always convenient for 
the Bishop and his counselors to be 
present themselves oh such occasions. 
It would be well, therefore, to select 
in every ward a committee of judi- 
cious, wise, good-tempered and firm 
men to take charge of the social par- 
ties, and to see that order is main- 
tained, and that no improper persons 
are allowed to obtrude themselves into 
the party to disturb the peace and en- 
joyment of those who go there to meet 
with their friends and neighbors. 
We think round dances should net be 
encouraged. And while there may be 
no harm in granting the permission 
which was given by a circular of the 
Twelve Apostles some time ago, in 
which it was stated that one or two 
round dances mtoht be held during the 



evening, care should be taken that this 
is not abused or carried to excess. This 
style of dance has been taken advan- 
tage of by many impure persons, 
and respectable people have been 
annoyed and grieved thereat, and have 
felt tnat it should be entirely prohib- 
ited. Committee-men and officers in 
charge of parties should see that 
dances of every kind are con- 
ducted in a modest and becoming 
manner, and that no behavior be per- 
mitted that would lead to evil or that 
would offend the most delicate suscep- 
tibilities. 

As the summer months are ap- 
proaching, when open air recreations 
will become common, we deem it nec- 
essary to warn the Saints, and espec- 
ially our young people, against the ex- 
cesses and improprieties that often 
attend such public entertainments. In 
the inordinate desire to make money, 
attractions are devised to draw crowds 
of people together where the usual re- 
straints that regulate good society are 
greatly relaxed, to the detriment of 
pure morality, and the breaking down 
of those safeguards which should pro- 
tect sobriety and virtue. Pleasure and 
relaxation which in themselves may be 
not only harmless but really beneficial 
to mind and body, are often rendered 
evil in the extreme, because of 
their surroundings and associations. 
The thoughtless and inexperienced are 
frequently oblivious to the harm thus 
attending something in which there is 
no essential wrong, and are led to look 
with allowance, if not actual approval, 
upon things that would shock them 
under other circumstances. The in- 
discriminate commingling of the faints 
with persons not of their faith whose 
^habits, history and purposes are bad or 
"unknown to them, is. fraught with evil 
and to be strongly deprecated. To ex- 
pose our youth to the contaminating 
influence of vile men and women such 
as often congregate in places of public 
amusement, where they are thrown to- 
gether in social intercourse, is more 
than folly; it is wickedness. It is 



11 



proper that strangers should be treated 
with courtesy and respect but inti- 
macy with- them is not desirable, and 
our young people should be cautioned 
and guarded against casual acquaint- 
anceship and the society of persons 
whose intentions and influence may be 
of the very worst character. 

Excursion parties should be con- 
ducted by persons of standing and 
wisdom and under regulations that 
will preclude the evils that frequently 
attend such gatherings. When ar- 
ranged for purposes of speculation, the 
promoters are often too heedless of 
consequences in their anxiety for 
profits, and will mix together the 
worst of characters and the good and 
unsophisticated, with results that can 
but be lamentable. Sunday excursions 
to lake or cafion, moonlight trips and 
late bathing trains should be emphati* 
cally discouraged. The society of 
persons who place themselves under 
the baleful influence of intoxicants 
should be avoided. Order should be 
maintained in the midst of merriment. 
Indecorous language and conduct 
should be frowned down. All excess 
is detrimental. Temperance should 
govern in everything. Amusement is 
not the purpose of life, it should be 
indulged in only by way of variety. 
When people accustom themselves to 
constant or oft-repeated rounds 
of pleasure, the true objects 
of human existence are forgot- 
ten and duty becomes irksome and 
detestable. Children should not be 
permitted to attend public gatherings 
without older persons accompanying 
to guard them from accident and from 
the contamination of the ungodly. The 
responsibility for the evils attending 
violations of these instructions will 
rest upon parents, guardians and the 
local Priesthood in the various wards 
add settlements. Persons who habit- 
ually desecrate the Lord's day cannot 
be held. in fellowship, and members of 
the Church who neglect public worship 
and the partaking of the Sacrament 
and do not remember the Sabbath day 



to keep i.t holy, will become weak in 
the faith and spiritually sickly, and 
will lose the Spirit and favor of God, 
and ultimately forfeit their standing in 
the Church and their exaltation with 
the obedient and faithful. 

SANITATION. 

Among the pressing requirements of 
the summer months is special atten- 
tion to sanitary measures. The Saints 
ought always to be cleanly in their 
haoits, persons and surroundings. 
But during the heat of the summer this 
becomes particularly needful. Much 
disease can be avoided by frequent ab- 
lutions, simple diet and the destruc- 
tion or removal of all refuse. Cleanli- 
ness is part of godliness. Filth is ob- 
noxious to the spirit of the Gospel. It 
is the breeding place for epidemics. 
Our bodies, our houses, our gardens 
and outhouses should all be kept free 
from uncleanly accumulations. Indi- 
vidual effort in this direction is a ne- 
cessity, and this should be supple- 
mented by organized regulations in the 
yarious wards so that the atmosphere 
may not become charged with the 
germs ol disease and death, arising 
from decaying vegetable and other 
matter festering in $he sun, and from 
unwholesome vapors aris.ngfrom dirt 
and neglected refuse. Let pure, air 
and bright sunshine have free circula- 
tion in every apartment; remove every- 
thing in the house or around it that 
sends forth sickening odors ; avoid the 
use of much animal food and of 
stimulants; preserve a cheerful spirit 
and a serene mind, and under the 
blessings of our Heavenly Father 
health and peace will abound and joy 
will dwell in fthe habitations of the 
Saints. 

SELECTION OF MISSIONARIES. 

We are constantly calling for mis- 
sionaries to go to the various fields of 
labor in this coantry, in Europe, and 
in other parts of the world. The 
greatest care should bo taken to select 
suitable persons for this duty. It 
often costs a considerable sum to send 



12 



men to the field of labor for which 
they are selected; hence it is Important 
that proper persons should be chosen, 
that their time and the means neces- 
sary for their transportation be not 
wasted. We have a large number of 
young men who ought to be very suit- 
able for missionaries. Our Sunday 
schools and theological classes, and 
our young men's mutual improvement 
associations, should give our young 
men who avail themselves of these 
facilities an excellent preparation for 
missionary labor. Every young man 
who bas faith should be taught to con- 
sider a mission to the world as an 
honorable event in his life, for which 
he will diligently prepare himself, and 
which he will look forward to with 
pleasure. There is an immense field 
lying before us, which must be oc- 
cupied by our Elders in order to 
fulfil the obligations God has laid 
upon us. Presidents of Stakes, 
Bishops of Wards, and Presidents of 
Quorums should exercise a wise dis- 
cretion in selecting for missions wor- 
thy persons, who viHll do the cause 
they represent no discredit, and who 
will be useful- in the laoor assigned 
them. 

SUNDAY SCHOOLS. 

We suggest to the Bishops and 
others whose duty it is to appoint 
Sunday School Superintendents the 
great necessity of care in the selection 
of these officers, as on them depend, 
more than on any other persons, the 
conduct, progress and well-being of 
the schools. An efficient superintend- 
ent implies a good school. Three 
characteristics, wherever obtainable 
are most desirable in the Sunday 
School Superintendent— a love of his 
work, an aptness for control, and a 
devotion to the cause of God. In the 
last named we Include, as a matter of 
course, a life consistent with his pro- 
fessions, that there may be no jar in the 
minds of his scholars between the 
force of his teachings and the influence 
of his conduct. It is also desirable 
that the superintendent be furnished 



with the most experienced and devoted 
help that the ward affords ; as that of- 
ficer is placed at a great disadvantage 
if he have an Inefficient corps of teach- 
ers, and the progress of our children 
is materially retarded, and much val- 
uable time and effort ill-spent, if his 
labors are not sustained t>y his asso- 
ciates. 

Our brethren and sisters should al- 
ways remember that the work of 
teaching. in our Sunday schorls im- 
poses upon them a moral obligation to 
make their daily walk and conversa- 
tion accord with their teachings. Of 
all lessons, the living lesson is the 
best. Children are surprisingly shrewd 
in detecting inconsistencies between 
the instructions and habits of their in- 
structors. Besides, the teacher who 
seeks to live up to his own advice, not 
only benefits his scholars, but. his 
teachings exert a salutary influence 
upon himself, and he profits by his own* 
lessons. 

AGRICULTURE AND TREE PLANTING. 



The winter which has passed has 
been remarkable for its mildness in the 
central and southern parts of the Ter- 
ritory. In the extreme north storms 
have been more frequent and the sea- 
son been more severe. But, taken as 
a whole, the winter has been an ex- 
tremely favorable one. Ihe open 
weather of the past two months has 
enabled farmers to get in their crops 
with a facility and to an extent rarely 
equaled. Good health has generally 
prevailed throughout our settlements, 
and food for man and beast has been 
generally abundant. 

In former Epistles we have dwelt 
upon the necessity of improving our 
system of agriculture. The Saints have 
been counseled to select the best kinds 
of grains, fraits and vegetables. Our 
soil is admirably adapted for the pro- 
duction of the best varieties of these 
articles, and there is no reason why we 
should not have them of as good qual- 
ity as can be raised anywhere in our 
zone. The same remarks apply to 



13 



horned stock, horses and sheep, and 
all kinds of poultry. It is only re- 
peating a truism to say that it is as 
easy to raise a good colt, a good calf, 
or a good sheep, as to raise a poor one. 
Tree planting should be systematical- 
ly followed throughout these treeless 
regions "which we occupy. The best 
varieties of trees should be sought for. 
In the early days we had to use quick- 
growing varieties that were easily pro- 
cured. But with our present railroad 
facilities we can select trees which are 
best adapted for future use in building, 
for manufacturing purposes, and for 
ornament. In some of the prairie 
States a day has been 'set apart in the 
spring of each year for the planting of 
trees, which is called Arbor Day. The 
results which ha\e followed the devo- 
tion of one day to this purpose are 
said to be very marked in regions 
where it is observed. But we should 
not confine our tree-planting to one 
day. Every man who owns a piece of 
ground should increase its value by 
planting fruit and shade trees, and 
make his selection of the latter from 
those kinds that will prove valuable as 
timber. The general planting of hard- 
wood trees would be attended with 
greater profit and much more satisfac- 
tory results than the wide-spread cul- 
tivation of varieties of the cottonwood 
and poplar. These latter grow readily 
and afford shade, but are of very little 
further use except for firewood. 

MISCELLANEOUS MATERIAL MATTERS. 

It is beyond doubt that the 
exportations and general marketing 
of the surplus products of our 
Territory form quite an addi- 
tion to the financial resources 
of the people. More care, however, 
should be exercised in putting up and 
taking care of articles intended for 
shipment to points within the Terri- 
tory, or outside its borders. 

The manufacture and care of butter 
should receive attention. This article 
is among the most sensitive to its sur- 
roundings, so that cleanliness in every 



stage if of vital importance. In this 
direction great improvement has been 
made in the Eastern States; and it 
would be well for neighborhoods to 
combine and purchase suitable plant 
and machinery and acquire skill in the 
improved method of manufacturing 
butter. 

Many of our cheese factories now 
turn out an article that is very desira- • 
ble and which commands ready sale 
and the full price in the market. There 
is room for the increased manufacture 
of this product. 

The income of the Territory from the 
sale of eggs is not an inconsiderable 
item. If any economical method could 
be devise' 1 for preserving them when 
abundant it would be a great advantage, 
and the price would be more nearly 
equal at different seasons of the year. 

The dried fruit business has been 
quite remunerative in the past, but our 
people need to be more careful in dry- 
ing. Cleanliness is essential, and the 
adoption of the Alden or other pro- 
cess would help us to maintain the 
old credit which our Territory ha'd for 
the excellence of its dried fruit. 

The shipment of hides from our Ter- 
ritory ought to cease, and tanneries 
should b^ fostered in every locality 
where they can be maintained. 

The same may be said about wool. 
Wise economy would prompt the es- 
tablishment of a sufficient number of 
woolen mills to purchase and manufac- 
ture all our home grown wool, so that 
instead of exporting the raw material 
we should manufacture it ourselves 
and pay our own people the wages 
therefor that we otherwise have to pay 
to workmen in other places. 

The Territory exports considerable 
grain, lucern seed and potatoes. These 
products have sometimes been poorly 
cleaned and not been properly assorted, 
and this negligence injures our credit 
and spoils our market. Making the pro- 
fessions which we do as Latter-day 
Saints, and having the promises of the 
Lord concerning the aid which He will 
give unto us, our business affairs 



14 



should be conducted in a way that will 
show that our professions are not 
vain. 

A PERIOD OF TRANSITION. 

Tne Chureh is now passing through 
a period of transition, or evolution, 
as some might be pleased to term it. 
Such periods appear to be necessary in 
the progress and perfecting of all cre- 
ated things, as much so in the history 
of peoples and communities as of in- 
dividuals. These periods of transition 
have most generally their pains, per- 
plexities and. sufferings. The present 
is no exception to the rule. But out of 
apparent evil, Providence will briug 
abundant good, and the lesson which 
the signs of the tinies should teach us 
is one of patience, endurance, and 
calm reliance on the Lord. The result 
will be that we shall be stronger, wiser, 
purer, happier, for the experience 
gained, and the work of the Lord, de- 
livered by His Omnipotence from all 
the snares set for its retardation, or 
plans laid for -its destruction, will yet 
triumph gloriously over ail its foes, and 
the infinite atonement of the Redeemer 
will accomplish its perfect work. The 
final victory of the Saints is certain; 
after the trial comes the reward. 

CONCLUSION. 

We cannot close our Epistle without 
expressing, as we have often done be- 
fore, our faith and hopes concerning 
the great work in which we are en- 
gaged. "The Lord hath founded Zion, 
and the poor ©f His people shall trust 
in it." Our hearts are filled with grat- 
itude and thanksgiving to our Great 
Creator that we have the privilege of 
living in this age of the world, and 
taking part in this great work. . We 
feel that all who have entered into cov- 
enant with God and who suffer perse- 
cution 'for His cause, have reason for 
rejoicing, even as Jesus told His dis- 
ciples when He was upon the earth: 
"Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for 
great is your reward in heaven: for so 
persecuted they the prophets which 
were before you." If we are perse- 



cuted for our religion, it is no more 
than we have been taught to expect. 
All who have been baptized into this 
Church, and who were properly taught 
at> the time, were led to expect that 
they would have to suffer as our Lord 
and Master and His disciples did. Our 
Sayior has given us ample testimony 
upon this point. We need not, there- 
fore, be surprised nor disappointed 
when persecution comes. We have, 
however, many great and glorious 
promise's made to us. God has estab- 
lished Zion, nevermore to be thrown 
down, nor to be given into the hands 
of another people. The most encour- 
aging words that could be uttered by 
Our Almighty Father to His children 
have been given to us. We have proved 
them to be true up to the present, and 
we know every word will be fulfilled 
that has been spoken concerning the 
future. They who fight against Zion 
snail be destroyed ; and the pit which 
has been digged for our destruction 
shall be filled by those who digged it, 
unto their utter destruction. 

The enemies of righteousness may 
gather themselves together, and plot 
evil, and effect secret combinations, 
and say concerning Zion : "Let her be 
defiled, and let our eye look upon Zion. 
But they know not the thoughts of the 
Lord, neither understand they His 
counsel." The Lord has stretched 
forth His hand and He has spoken His 
word. He will not withdraw it, either, 
until His purposes concerning the earth 
and its inhabitants shall be completely 
fulfilled. We need not fear nor trem- 
ble. The afflictions which our Father 
permits to come upon us will be made 
light unto us, and they will be made to 
appear as very trifling in comparison 
with the calamities that He has said 
shall come upon the ungodly inhabit- 
ants of the earth. Great judgments 
are pronounced upon Babylon, and 
they will be fulfilled to the very letter. 
But if we do as the Prophet says: 
"Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the 
earth, which have wrought His judg- 
ment; seek righteousness, seek meek- 



15 



ness; it may be ye shall be hid in the 
day of the Lord's anger ;" we shall be 
saved from impending evils. 

The Lord has given unto us an in- 
heritance [upon this land, which He 
declares is a choice land. He has told 
us that whatsoever nation shall pos- 
sess it shall be free from bondage and 
from captivity, and from all other na- 
tions under heaven, if they will but 
serve the God of the land, who is 
Jesus Christ. These words have been 
fulfilled in the fate which has befallen 
nations in the past; they will be ful- 
filled in the future. If we keep the 
commandments of God, if we serve 
Him with diligence and full purpose of 
heart, the Lord will not suffer us to be 
brought into bondage to our enemies, 
but will give us freedom, and maintain 
it upon the land to which He has led 
us. We may rest confidently upon His 
promises to Zion, and be assured that 
the time will come when it shall be "a 
land of peace, a city of refuge, a place 
of safety for the Saints of the Most 
High God; and the glory of the Lord 
shall be there, and the terror of the 
Lord shall be there, insomuch that the 
wicked will not come unto it" and it 
shall be called Zion. And it shall come 
to pass among the wicked, that every 
man that will not take his sword 
against his neighbor, must needs flee 



unto Zion for safety. And there shall 
be gathered unto it out of every nation 
under heaven; and it shall be the only 
people that shall not be at war one with 
another. And it shall be said among 
the wicked, 'Let us not go up to battle 
against Zion, for the inhabitants of 
Zion are terrible; wherefore we cannot 
stand.' And it shall come to pass that 
the righteous shall be gathered out 
from among all nations, and shall come 
to Zion, singing songs of everlasting 
joy." These promises are made to us 
directly, and the Spirit of GoJ bears 
testimony to us to-day that they are 
true. 

With full confidence that the dense 
clouds which have darkened our 
horizon during the past two or three 
years will be soon dissipated by the 
bright rays of the sun of righteous- 
ness, and invoking the blessings that 
come through patient endurance of 
affliction and faithful adherence to the 
right, upon the Saints of God in all the $ 
world, we subscribe ourselves, 

Your fellowservants in the great 
work of the latter days, 

John Taylor, 
George Q. Cannon, 
Joseph F. Smith, 

First Presidency of the Church of 
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

April, 1887.